Carly Simon was one of the most popular of the confessional singer/songwriters who emerged in the early '70s. The youngest child in an upper-class New York family (her father, Richard Simon, co-founded the Simon & Schuster publishing company), Simon got her start in music as part of a duo with her sister Lucy (who later wrote the music for the Broadway show The Secret Garden). The Simon Sisters had a chart single with "Winkin' Blinkin' and Nod" in April 1964. But Simon's solo debut did not come until the release of her self-titled first album in February 1971. It contained her first solo hit, "That's the Way I've Always Heard It Should Be," an anti-marriage song co-written with Jacob Brackman that reached the Top Ten. Simon's second album, Anticipation (November 1971) (which went gold in two years), contained a Top 40 follow-up in the title song, and she won the 1971 Grammy Award for Best New Artist. Her third album, the gold number one No Secrets (November 1972), was produced by Richard Perry and contained the gold number one hit "You're So Vain," which aroused speculation about its subject. Mick Jagger, one of those suggested, sang backup on the recording. "The Right Thing to Do," a second single from the album, made the Top 40.
Simon married fellow singer/songwriter James Taylor in November 1972. (They divorced in 1983.) Her fourth album, the Top Ten Hotcakes (January 1974), contained a gold Top Ten remake of the Inez & Charlie Foxx hit "Mockingbird" sung with Taylor and the Top Ten hit "Haven't Got Time for the Pain"; it became her third consecutive gold LP. Playing Possum (April 1975), containing the Top 40 hit "Attitude Dancing," was another Top Ten LP. Simon's sixth album, Another Passenger (June 1976), was a relative commercial disappointment. But in 1977, she sang "Nobody Does It Better," the theme song for the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me, resulting in a gold Top Ten hit. Her seventh album, Boys in the Trees (April 1978), was a million-selling success, buoyed by the Top Ten hit "You Belong to Me" and a Top 40 duet cover of "Devoted to You" with Taylor. Simon's eighth and ninth albums, Spy (June 1979) and Come Upstairs (June 1980), were less successful, though the latter contained the gold Top 40 hit "Jesse."
In October 1980, Simon collapsed of exhaustion on-stage, after which her concert appearances became rare. Her next album, Torch (September 1981), was given over to pre- and non-rock covers. In 1982, Simon scored a Top Ten U.K. hit with "Why," a song produced by the disco group Chic from the movie Soup for One. In 1983, she returned to the U.K. Top 40 as the uncredited singer on the Will Powers (Lynn Goldsmith) satire "Kissing with Confidence." Simon's career in the U.S. was in decline, however, as the albums Hello Big Man (September 1983) and Spoiled Girl (July 1985) were poor sellers. She returned to the Top 40 in 1986 with another movie theme, "Coming Around Again," from Heartburn (the 1987 Coming Around Again LP went platinum) and had yet another movie-related hit with the Grammy- and Oscar-winning "Let the River Run" from the film Working Girl in 1988. In 1990, Simon released both My Romance (March), another album of pop covers, and Have You Seen Me Lately? (September), an album of original songs. She scored the film This Is My Life in 1992.
In 1993, Simon's "family opera" Romulus Hunt premiered and was released on record, and 1994 brought the release of a new album, Letters Never Sent (November). A three-CD/cassette box set retrospective, Clouds in My Coffee 1965-1995, appeared in November 1995. Film Noir followed two years later, and in the spring of 2000 Simon returned with her first record of original material in six years, The Bedroom Tapes. In 2002 she released Christmas Is Almost Here, a collection of holiday-themed material, followed by another collection of new material, Moonlight Serenade, in 2005. Into White, which featured mostly versions of standards, was released in 2006. After signing with Hear Music, Simon released This Kind of Love in 2008. Never Been Gone appeared in 2009 and was quickly followed by the holiday EP Hymn: A Musical Christmas Card, a collaboration with harpist Andreas Vollenweider. Sony/BMG issued Playlist: The Very Best of Carly Simon in 2014, which featured selections from the mid-'80s to 2000. In November 2015, Simon released her much-anticipated autobiography titled Boys in the Trees: A Memoir, accompanied by Songs from the Trees: A Musical Memoir Collection. The memoir covered her life through 1983, and the song set mostly followed suit, focusing on her Elektra and Warner Bros. recordings. ~ William Ruhlmann